Students and staff of Hardin-Jefferson High School in Sour Lake witnessed the devastating results of drinking and driving in a demonstration as part of the Shattered Dreams Program hosted by the school March 27.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rod Carroll, “The leading cause of injury and death for people ages 16 to 25 is traffic accidents, and the majority of fatalities in those cases are alcohol-related. We are trying to educate students on the consequences of their decisions.”
Shattered Dreams volunteers stage a mock alcohol-related accident at participating schools in the area. Kelly High School in Beaumont hosted the program March 31. Students are alerted to the accident over the loud speaker with a 9-1-1 call reporting the accident. They are then escorted outside where they see the results of a car crash, with injured parties inside and outside the vehicles involved. Emergency responders then arrive and begin administering assistance at the staged scene. Students even get to see the Jaws of Life in action as first responders utilize the tool to get passengers free of the wreckage. Deputy Carroll said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Hardin County ESD No. 5, Jefferson County ESD No. 3, Southeast Texas Air Rescue, Sour Lake PD, Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital, Broussard’s Mortuary, MADD, Jefferson County Morgue, Lumberton VFD, Lamar Institute of Technology Paramedic Program, and Judge Langston Adams all assisted in the presentation.
Hardin-Jefferson High School Principal Dr. Diana Valdez said this time of year, with the end of the school year, prom and Project Graduation rapidly approaching, is a perfect time to expose the school’s youth to the educational program. She said approximately 600 students were in attendance Thursday and would be present for a video presentation the following day.
The video, another component of the Shattered Dreams Program, follows the chain of events initiated by the alcohol-related accident beginning with the 9-1-1 call reporting the incident and leading viewers through the journey of the intoxicated driver, including arrest and court proceedings, while also showing the path of a student “killed” in the mock wreck from the point of view of the deceased and an emergency room visit for one of the injured parties involved in the accident.
“The students have been filming all week,” Valdez commented. “And they prepared for two weeks. They have been to the morgue, the courthouse, all through the process, even the notification of the parents of the deceased student. I think it will have a big impact. Tomorrow (March 28) will be incredible! All the students will gather in an assembly and watch the film.”
Hannah Love, a Hardin-Jefferson senior and member of the student council, said she and the rest of the student council along with other volunteers have been working hard on the film over the course of the last two weeks. She thanked technology teacher Scott Hagedorn who supervised the film’s production. She also said she and fellow students spent a lot of time outside of the school researching for the presentation, but the end result was worth the effort.
“We wanted to let students know about the severity of the potential consequences of drunk driving and what they can do to prevent it,” Love explained. “We want students to see what happens step-by-step when there is an alcohol-related accident and fatality. We feel this will have a greater impact than a simple presentation.”
Love said helping with the film and presentation taught her a lot.
“I hope it helps students to prepare for situations in which they may be drinking,” Love said.
Deputy Carroll said he believes the presentation is effective and, even if not all students will pay attention to every detail, he believes it will really hit home for a lot of the youth. “We give them a little idea of what happens in each step of the process,” he said. “That way the kids get the full effect and see what could happen if they drink and drive.”
Hardin-Jefferson’s Shat- tered Dreams film can be seen at tinyurl.com/ShatteredHJ. Viewer discretion is advised.